GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) cautioned on Wednesday (Dec 29) that the more transmissible Omicron together with the currently circulating Delta variants might lead to "a tsunami of cases," putting immense pressure on national health systems, said Xinhua.
Recapping WHO's response since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pic) said at a press briefing that he was "highly concerned that Omicron being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta - is leading to a tsunami of cases".
"This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse and again disrupting lives and livelihoods," he said, citing the pressure as not only new Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalisation but also a large number of health workers were getting sick themselves.
Tedros reiterated his concern over a recent narrative that Omicron has been causing milder or less severe infections.
"But we are undermining the other side at the same time - it could be dangerous... we shouldn't undermine the bad news just focusing on the good news," he said.
"We don't want people to be complacent, saying this is not severe, this is mild. And we have to be very careful in that narrative," he said.
According to Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, though Omicron looks like being more transmissible, having a shorter incubation period, and causing a mild infection, it's based on the largely young population that the variant has been infecting.
Since the Omicron wave had not been fully established in the broader population, Ryan said he's "a little nervous to make positive predictions until we see how well the vaccine protection is going to work in those older and more vulnerable populations".
"I think it's really important over the coming weeks that we keep suppressing transmission of both variants to the minimum," he added - BERNAMA